China fires another salvo at U.S. as Pompeo exits Asia

Says Beijing did not initiate the trade war but was acting in self defence China has stepped up its war of words with the U.S., following a frosty back-and-forth between its Foreign Minister Wang Yi and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday. In response to a question on U.S. accusations that China was meddling in Washington’s domestic affairs and elections, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang on Tuesday asserted that such finger pointing is “creating something out of thin air”. Mr. Lu’s response tailed Mr. Pompeo’s Asia visit, which took him to Japan, North Korea and China. In a snub, Chinese President Xi Jinping did not meet the visiting U.S. Secretary of State. Responding specifically to the charge that China was raising tariffs to impact the upcoming U.S. elections, Mr. Lu said Beijing had not initiated the trade war, but had only responded in “self-defence”. “The China-U.S. trade frictions are caused by the U.S.” “Under such circumstances, China was forced to make necessary responses. I think this is legitimate self-defence,” Mr. Lu observed. Washington has been irked by China’s decision to step up import duties on American agri-products including soyabeans, hurting farmers — Mr. Trump’s base — in the Midwest states of Iowa and Ohio. The Foreign Ministry also slammed accusations as “ridiculous” that China was interfering in the upcoming U.S. polls by placing a paid four-page supplement in a local Iowa daily, which listed the economic costs of Mr. Trump’s trade war. Mr. Lu stressed that “the truth is that it is normal and legal cooperation between the U.S. media and the Chinese media”. “This does not violate U.S. laws. Many foreign media also did so.” Mr. Lu’s assertions follow Monday’s clash between Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang and Mr. Pompeo. “We require that the U.S. stop such misguided actions,” Mr. Wang demanded during an official round of talks with Mr. Pompeo, while listing the trade war and Washington’s shifting stance on Taiwan as some of the points of aggravated friction between the two countries. In response Mr. Pompeo said: “The issues that you characterised, we have fundamental disagreements.” In Beijing, Mr. Pompeo’s visit is seen as a marker when the unrelenting spat between the U.S. and China, triggered by the so-called trade war, touched a new low. A section of the Chinese state-media did not see any early signs of reversal of fraying Sino-U.S. ties. On the contrary, the downturn in the relationship is likely to persist till 2020, when U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stand for re-election.

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